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'Northeast is a top priority for the government'

January 09, 2013 19:01 IST

"Rapid development of the North Eastern Region is among the top priorities of the Central government. The NER states are Special Category States which get liberal central funding on 90:10 pattern and non exempted Central ministries / department are mandated to allocate 10 per cent of their Plan funds for development of NER," said Paban Singh Ghatowar, Union minister, ministry of development of northeastern Region.

"Top priority should be accorded to expeditious completion of ongoing projects especially in roads, rail, telecommunications and power sector. The ministry of DoNER is also continuing discussions with ministry of power for holistic generation, transmission and distribution plan for power projects in the region", he said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the 8th North East Business Summit organised by the Indian Chamber Of Commerce in association with the ministry of DoNER, on Wednesday.

"Connectivity, empowerment and sustainable development can well typify the growth agenda of the northeast Indian states, which exhibit tremendous untapped potential by virtue of its natural resource base and strategic location as the gateway to the Southeast Asia, South Asian and East Asian nations," said Rajiv Mundhra, president, Indian Chamber Of Commerce.

"The NER shares direct land connectivity with China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. However, the pace of infrastructural development in the NER has mostly been below mark till date. The summit aims at chalking out a roadmap for enabling a sustainable growth process for the NER. We feel that with an all round development of local resources, investor friendly governance and seamless economic integration with the mainland, NER can emerge as an International Trade Hub," he added.

"Nepal encourages foreign investment and already have good policy framework to encourage investment. Improvement in FDI approval process has been recognized by the development partners. We are creating special economic zones to further export-friendly investments in the country. Nepal shares opportunities and challenges with the Northeastern states of India and also with Bangladesh and Myanmar. We can mutually benefit from each other's resource potential and technological advancements", said Anil Kumar Jha, minister of industry, government of Nepal.

Tha Aye, chief minister of Sagaing Region of Myanmar, talked about the importance of strengthening India-Myanmar relations, and how the northeast can benefit from a stronger bilateral partnership.

Myanmar is truly India's gateway to the larger ASEAN market because of its location, and hence both the countries must engage with each other effectively for reaping mutual benefits, he stressed.

The chief minister also talked about the synergies between the northeast and the Sagaing Region, and said more and more people-to-people contacts, cultural exchanges etc. would pave the way for enhanced trade between the two neighbours. 

A S Lamba, secretary, DoNER, highlighted the various initiatives that the ministry is undertaking for taking the northeast to a higher growth trajectory.

He said that the private sector must engage more strongly with the government if the socio-economic fabric of the northeast has to be changed for the better, and urged the Indian Chamber of Commerce to continue with it's efforts to project the northeast as a favourable investment destination to domestic and international business captains. 

The 2-day summit is being attended by the participation of ministers, top government officials and corporate leaders from India and abroad; and will chart out the future roadmap for the northeast's progress.
K Anurag in Guwahati